Ten title defenses. Sixteen consecutive victories. Home-field advantage. Anyone who thought Anderson Silva might falter at UFC 153 clearly has not been paying attention.
Silva, 37, the pride of Curitiba, Brazil, put on a master class in defeating UFC journeyman Stephan Bonnar with relative ease.
Round 1 saw unfettered aggression from Bonnar, who clearly knew the tall order he signed up for. In an effort to take control of the fight quickly, Bonnar kept close contact with Silva, planting him against the cage early. Little did anyone know that Bonnar was falling directly into Silva’s web.
Anderson Silva has previously stated his respect for boxing great Muhammad Ali and during this fight it showed. The “Spider” employed Ali’s famous “rope-a-dope” technique, standing with his back against the Octagon wall in a ploy to get Bonnar to expend more of his energy. Bonnar obliged for the better part of two minutes, dealing moderate damage.
And then Silva flipped the switch.
Seemingly on the command of the deafening sold-out crowd at the HSBC arena in Rio de Janeiro, Silva launched like lightning. He charged directly toward Bonnar, blasting a cement knee to the American’s midsection, dropping him flat to the canvas. Silva pounced on top of his prey and within seconds the referee was forced to stop the fight in the UFC middleweight champion’s favor.
In four minutes, 39 seconds, Silva proved yet again why he is the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
In the co-main event, “Minotauro” Nogueira returned to the Octagon nearly one year after his right arm was broken by Frank Mir at UFC 140.
After a thorough rehab period, Nogueira showed no hesitation in his battle against Dave Herman.
Applying constant pressure for two rounds, the Brazilian legend used powerful striking to set up signature submission attempts, including a fight-ending armbar. Nogueira’s victory brought Silva to tears in the locker room, emphasizing the national pride surging through the HSBC Arena .
Beyond the co-main events, many fighters established themselves as up-and-coming forces in their respective divisions.
Light heavyweight Glover Teixeira, a man considered both elite and somehow unknown, made a name for himself by demolishing Fabio Maldonado. Teixeira, undefeated since 2005, drove the 32-year-old Maldonado to the canvas in the opening seconds and unrelentingly dropped fists and elbows for nearly two solid rounds, forcing the fight doctor to stop the contest prior to Round 3.
In a fight likely to receive “Fight of the Night” honors, Jon Fitch fought through the hostile Brazilian waters to win a unanimous decision over fast-rising prospect Erick Silva. Silva, who came into the bout as the favorite, was stymied by Fitch’s submission defense and outclassed by the American’s sheer aggression and ability to predict and counter the Brazilian’s efforts.
“Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis also brought a win home to the states by putting on a clinic against Wagner Prado. Securing takedowns at will, Davis was ever active, delivering pummeling blows to the Brazilian and erasing Prado’s undefeated Octagon record.
Demian Maia made quick work of Rick Story, applying high-level jiu-jitsu to secure a neck-crank submission in the first round. Maia, who dropped from middleweight to welterweight in the middle of this year, has become an absolute force, putting the 170-pound division on notice.
With Brazilian “The Ultimate Fighter” alums Rony Jason, Diego Brandao and Cristiano Marcello, this was the card not only Brazil but the UFC has been begging for. It delivered wall-to-wall action, skillful fighting, future intrigue and even controversy. All the things that will let Dana White sleep at night and leave the fans thirsty for more.